Female workers sue Kash n' Karry
By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE
© St. Petersburg Times,
TAMPA -- Four female employees of Kash n' Karry accused the Plant City grocery chain in a federal lawsuit Wednesday of paying women lower salaries than men who perform comparable work.
The gender discrimination suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa, seeks class-action status for other female employees of the 136-store, 12,000-employee Florida grocery chain.
David J. Linesch, a Palm Harbor attorney representing the women, said the four learned from co-workers that they make $1,500 to $4,000 less annually than men doing similar or identical work. Linesch said he and his clients think the pay disparity is a problem throughout the chain.
"They've learned that through word of mouth," he said. "They feel true frustration. They've all talked to management and complained about the disparity in salaries, but obviously to no avail."
Officials of Delhaize America, the Salisbury, N.C., corporation that owns Kash n' Karry, declined to comment, saying they have not reviewed the lawsuit.
The women -- Janice A. Perry, 38; Terry Stalans, 31; Barbara D'Amico, 55; and Deborah L. Roberts, 33 -- are asking the court to order Kash n' Karry to pay them the difference between their pay and the salary given men performing similar work.
None of the women, who work at separate stores, could be reached for comment.
Of the four, only Perry, who earned $36,000 annually as an assistant manager at a store in Palm Harbor, no longer works for Kash n' Karry, having resigned June 9. Stalans made $31,000 as a grocery manager at a store in the Clearwater area, Roberts $26,000 as a customer service manager in Tampa and D'Amico $23,920 as a pharmacy clerk, also in Tampa.
Linesch said he also thinks men are afforded better opportunities for promotion, though that allegation is not raised in the suit. He said a separate action on that matter has been filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"We've invited Kash n' Karry into a dialogue," Linesch said. "It seems to me, if they're so inclined, they can best spend their resources evaluating these claims and spend the time and money to correct the disparity in pay. We haven't heard from them."
The lawsuit is the latest of several discrimination actions against the grocery industry. The most notable was the class-action sex discrimination suit against Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets Inc.
In 1997, Publix agreed to pay an $85-million settlement, the fourth-largest of its type in U.S. history, to 34,000 current and former employees and attorneys who alleged the women lost out on pay and promotions because of their gender.
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